Category Archives: Bigotry

Malaka Of The Week: Briscoe Cain

Hand to God, I am not mocking a child. Texas State Representative Briscoe Cain is 36 years old; he just looks like a tween. Cain is perhaps the wingnuttiest member of a reactionary lege. He’s in the news as a co-author of the latest Texas voter suppression bill. And that is why Briscoe Cain is malaka of the week.

Briscoe Cain came on my radar screen during this segment of the Rachel Maddow Show:

The racist relic in question is not Briscoe Cain himself, although the label fits, but language in the Texas constitution about the “purity of the ballot box.” It dates to the Jim Crow era and was originally used to ensure that the dominant party primary was all-white. The “purity” language was included in Cain’s impure bill.

In the clip, Malaka B pretends not to understand the significance of the “purity” language, but I’m not buying it. He looks like a middle school kid trying to get out of a test by claiming that his Peepaw or Meemaw died. That’s Southern for grandfather and grandmother.

I went to school with a kid who pulled that stunt so many times that he seemed to have dozens of Papous or Yiayias. That’s Greek for grandfather and grandmother.

Cain is the sort of committed Christian who should be committed. He’s anti-LGBTQ, anti-vax, and anti-mask. I’m anti-Briscoe Cain.

In his freshman session, Malaka B was named one of the worst legislators by the Texas Monthly:

We typically exempt freshmen from the Worst list. We usually forgive their trangressions, because they don’t know how the Legislature works. So just know that we tried. We tried really hard to give Briscoe Cain a pass. But he left us little choice.

When we asked Capitol insiders for Worst list suggestions, his name, almost universally, was the first one mentioned. During one floor debate, when a fellow legislator fell ill with a serious intestinal ailment, Cain objected to the usual procedure of granting the lawmaker an excused absence and called for a record vote. He was the only no vote. But one particular moment, during the budget debate on the House floor, best exemplifies Cain’s uninformed and belligerent performance this session. He offered an amendment to defund a state council that promotes palliative care. He called it a “death panel.” Under questioning from his colleagues, it became clear that Cain didn’t know that palliative care is the treatment of terminally ill people for pain and anxiety to ease their passing. He eventually withdrew his amendment, but not before he’d very nearly zeroed out funding for a good program without actually knowing what it does. Thankfully his colleagues saved him from himself in that instance. Unfortunately, there was no one to save the rest of us from Briscoe Cain.

Belligerence and ignorance are a toxic combination as is everything about Cain’s brief political career so far.

In the spirit of his lord and master former President* Pennywise, Cain likes to pick fights, then claim it’s all a joke.

He shaded Steven Hawking after his death:

This is the case of a living dipshit trolling a dead genius. It’s typical of this chickenshit creep that he deleted the tweet after he was universally slammed for it.

In a further display of keyboard courage, Malaka B threatened a fellow Texan:

This stunt landed Malaka B in Twitter jail. He doesn’t have the guts to threaten Beto in real life: Malaka B is 5’7″ and Beto is 6’4″. I double dog dare him to take a poke at long tall Texan Beto.

I wonder if wee Malaka B used his time in jail to play prisoner and sheriff? He thinks he’s some sort of Western hero, after all. At best, he’s a Wyatt Earp Mini-Me.

I bet he can’t pull off this rocking chair stunt perfected by Henry Fonda as Wyatt Earp in John Ford’s My Darling Clementine:

I bet Beto could do it since he’s as gangly as Fonda and two inches taller. It all comes down to John Ford movies with me.

Briscoe Cain has a well-established pattern of picking a fight, then running away the minute there’s any resistance. It happened with the “purity of the ballot box” controversy as well. The language was pulled from the final bill.

Malaka B is a puffed-up chump who thinks he’s a he-man. He’s as phony as the Impeached Insult Comedian and twice as cowardly. And that is why Briscoe Cain is malaka of the week.

The last word goes to Elvis Costello:

The Bamboo Bamboozle

This post has nothing to do with the great Samuel Fuller flick, House Of Bamboo, but I couldn’t resist posting that image. It has  everything to do with the Big Election Lie.

Those zany Cyber Ninjas have been busy in Arizona:

The recount of Maricopa County, Arizona’s 2.1 million ballots includes an analysis of whether the ballots have any bamboo fibers, an audit leader said Wednesday. The official said that the auditors were seeking to vet a wild claim that 40,000 counterfeit ballots were shipped in from Asia.

The explanation for the review by John Brakey — who is serving as an assistant liaison for the Arizona Senate Republican-ordered “audit” — confirms suspicions by outside election experts that the rules for the audit had been shaped with crazy conspiracy theories about the 2020 election in mind.

Brakey had been asked by a reporter for the local CBS affiliate to elaborate on a reference to bamboo fibers he had made at a press conference last week.

“There’s accusations that 40,000 ballots were flown into Arizona and stuffed into the box. And it came from the Southeast part of the world — Asia — and what they’re doing is to find out if there is bamboo in the paper,” Brakey said Wednesday.

Say what? Bamboo? WTF?

Trumpers have no idea how crazy this shit sounds to non-cult members. The Kaiser of Chaos acts as if these audits or whatever the hell you want to call them is his ticket out of Mar-a-Doorn and back to the White House. That’s right, they somehow think a restoration is possible. So did Kaiser Bill who spent most of his exile preparing for a return to Germany. It never happened.

The Trumpists seem determined to make the Yellow Peril a thing again. Hence the comments about the Chinese or Kung Flu. The latter is what passes for humor in Trumper circles. That’s why the Senate passed an Asian Hate Crimes Bill with only one no vote: Josh Hawley, of course. Hell, even Tailgunner Ted tucked his tail between his legs and voted aye.

In other voter suppression news, the Trump mini-me who runs Florida signed a restrictive bill into law. They’re so eager to pander to the Impeached Insult Comedian that they shot themselves in the foot. The Florida GOP spent years urging their supporters to vote by mail. Their lege just made it harder. That’s some real Florida Man shit, y’all.

The good news is that the Arizona Bamboo Bamboozle is doomed to fail. The bad news is that bamboo is hard to cut back, it keeps growing and growing. Hopefully, that won’t be the case with political bamboo. Stay tuned.

The last word goes to a genuine odd couple, Dean Martin and Frank Zappa:

 

The Dingbat Right

ding·bat 
1. NORTH AMERICANAUSTRALIAN a stupid or eccentric person.
2. a typographical device other than a letter or numeral (such as an asterisk), used to signal divisions in text or to replace letters in a euphemistically presented vulgar word.

The Dingbat Right have always been with us but the sane among us rarely dealt with them. The internet gave them a platform and social media gave them a megaphone.  It’s done the same for me but on my good days I’m relatively sane. Hopefully, this is one of those days.

In my youth, the John Birch Society personified the Dingbat Right. They were against water fluoridation believing it to be an attempt by the Commies at mind control or some such shit. I’ve never been clear about that: coherence was not the Birchers strong suit. They were also convinced that General President Eisenhower was a dupe of the Communist conspiracy and that Chief Justice Warren was a card-carrying member of CPUSA instead of that currently extinct species: a liberal Republican.

The Birchers are still around but they don’t attract much notice: it’s crowded on the Dingbat Right. They had something of a renaissance during the Trump regime. Anyone surprised to hear that? I thought not.

There’s even a direct link between the John Birch Society and the proto-Trumper Tea Party movement. One of the JBS’s founding members was Fred Koch. You’ve probably heard of his sons, David and Charles. The Kochsuckers are everywhere.

Bob Dylan wrote a song about the Birchers:

There are too many members of the modern Dingbat Right to name them all. I wrote about Tucker the Fucker yesterday. His latest thing is whipping up the Dingbat rank and file to confront maskers:

In primetime on Monday night the Fox News host Tucker Carlson claimed requiring children to wear masks outdoors was “child abuse”.

Carlson also said “the only people who wear masks outside are zealots and neurotics” and said seeing a vaccinated person wear a mask outdoors was like “watching a grown man expose himself in public”.

“Your response when you see children wearing masks as they play should be no different from your response to seeing someone beat a kid in Walmart,” he said.

“Call the police immediately, contact child protective services. Keep calling until someone arrives. What you’re looking at is abuse, it’s child abuse and you are morally obligated to attempt to prevent it.”

Tucker Carlson is the worst kind of Dingbat, a phony who whips the genuine Dingbats into a frenzy.  It’s in his job description: Fox News is the media HQ of Dingbat Right Nation.

Former Senator and current CNN talking head Rick Santorum is a lifelong member of the Dingbat Right:

And this guy won eleven primaries and caucuses in the 2012 GOP presidential race including, of all places, Oklahoma. Oy just oy.

The most sinister bits of dingbattery involve attempts to keep the election Big Lie alive. In Arizona, the lege authorized what amounts to a third or fourth audit of the 2020 presidential election. The company in charge has one of dingbattiest names I’ve ever heard: Cyber Ninjas. I am not making this up.

The Dingbat Right isn’t big on policy. They’re culture warriors at heart. They’ve somehow managed to top themselves with the Joe Biden Wants To Ban Beef mishigas. Regular Guy Joe is a burger grabber? Please. He’s warming up the grill for Independence Day as I write this.

TPM’s Kate Riga has a great piece about the origins of this nonsense. It all started in the British tabloid, The Daily Mail. The Dingbat Right is ascendant in the United Kingdom as well. They were behind Brexit and the big-haired buffoon who pushed it and later became Prime Minister. Come on down, Boris Johnson. Hmm, I wonder if Bozza has Mad Cow disease…

The only thing I like about the beef beef is that it makes me think of the moment in the 1984 Democratic campaign when Fritz Mondale asked Gary Hart, “Where’s the beef?”

That dig at Hart’s lack of policy specifics was based on a Wendy’s ad campaign that turned into a board game that nobody played:

I prefer this Simpsonian take on that fleeting campaign kerfuffle:

By 1987, that quip took on a whole new meaning but since this post is about the Dingbat Right, I’m not going there. Neither Mondale nor Hart were dingbats, after all.

That concludes this brief tour of Dingbat Right Nation. It made me think of All In The Family and Archie Bunker. Archie called his sweet but ditzy wife Edith a dingbat and his pompous pinko son-in-law Mike, a meathead. Archie defined meathead as “dead from the neck up.” That certainly describes the Dingbat Right. If only they’d stifle.

Tucker Rhymes With Fucker

I was busy following the Louisiana-Second Congressional runoff (I’ll be writing about it this week for Bayou Brief) so I completely missed the latest Tucker Carlson controversy:

I usually don’t hold people responsible for a tasteless remark they made in college or high school, but I’ll make an exception in Tucker Carlson’s case. He’s the same entitled, smirking bigot that he was then.

This is a man who recently advocated the vile, anti-Semitic replacement theory, then denied doing so. He’s a disingenuous dick who wouldn’t know the truth if he tripped over it. He is, however, an expert at tripping over his own dick.

I take the “Dan White Society” thing personally. It’s time to paraphrase Lloyd Bentsen’s snappy putdown of J Danforth Quayle:

I knew Harvey Milk.

Harvey Milk was a friend of mine.

You’re no Harvey Milk, Tucker.

What’s next? The Twinkie defense?

I second this reply:

A reminder that Tucker rhymes with fucker.

The last word goes to Harry Nilsson:

Fuck you, Tucker.

Malaka Of The Week: Amanda Chase

The woman in the red and white elephant skirt with an assault weapon draped around her neck is Virginia State Senator Amanda Chase. She’s running for the Republican nomination for Governor. I don’t think the Commonwealth is ready for a Governor who describes herself as “Trump in heels.” She looks more like Trump in sandals to me. And that is why Amanda Chase is malaka of the week.

Chase is from the Richmond suburbs, Midlothian in Chesterfield County to be precise. It’s a town name I used to like but now regard with considerable fear and Midloathing. It does, however, make for a memorable nickname: the Midlothian Malaka.

Chase gets around. She spoke at the “Stop The Steal” rally that preceded the 1/6 Dipshit Insurrection. She denies storming the Capitol but has vehemently defended the insurrectionists, “These were not rioters and looters. These were patriots who love their country and do not want to see our great republic turn into a socialist country.”

She was censured by her colleagues for that bit of brazen dipshittery and is fighting it in court. You would have thought that she’d wear it as a badge of pride.

Her latest cause is defending this guy:

After the verdict in a state whose capitol is 1.200 miles away from home, the Midlothian Malaka attacked the jury and praised convicted murderer Derek Chauvin:

Virginia state Sen. Amanda Chase (R), a prominent Republican candidate in her state’s gubernatorial race, copied Greene’s fear-mongering tactic in response to Chauvin’s verdict by saying that it made her “sick.”

During a campaign stop on Tuesday shortly after the announcement of Chauvin’s verdict, Chase griped that she is “so concerned about our law enforcement right now quitting. And you should be, too.”

Chase, who describes herself as “Trump in heels” and was censured by the Virginia state Senate after praising the mob behind the Capitol attack as “patriots,” doubled down on her stance in a written statement.

“I’m concerned that the decision was politically motivated more to prevent civil unrest than to serve justice,” Chase said in a written statement, according to the Washington Post. “The decision made today sends a clear message to law enforcement; the justice system doesn’t have your back.”

I wonder if she’s going to start a Chauvin fan club and invite rotten defense lawyer Eric Nelson to speak. They both make me sick.

Is it just me or does Eric Nelson look like Garth Algar?

Nelson can still suck it.

Back to the Midlothian Malaka.  She has been on my radar for quite some time. If there’s a retrograde position, she’s taken it. Her comments about rape are reprehensible even by her own low standards: “It’s those who are naive and unprepared that end up raped. Sorry. But I’m not going to be a statistic.”

She’s also a hardcore Lost Causer. She adores the Robert E. Lee statue on Monument Avenue in Richmond, which state and local officials want lost like the cause it represents. She described the removal attempt as: “a cowardly capitulation to the looters and domestic terrorists” and an “overt effort to erase all white history.”

Does Malaka Mandy kiss her children with that mouth?

The good news is that the Midlothian Malaka’s chances of being elected Governor are slim and none and slim was just consigned to the dust heap of history. The bad news is that she has any support at all. She’s Virginia’s answer to Marjorie Taylor Greene and Lauren Boebert. And that is why Amanda Chase is malaka of the week.

I’ve used Sweet Virginia many times over the years, but it has never been more appropriate: the Midlothian Malaka is the shit that needs to be scraped off the Commonwealth’s shoes. That’s why the last word goes to the Rolling Stones:

 

 

The Chauvin Trial: Evidence Matters, Lawyering Matters

I made a mistake yesterday and spent too much time on Twitter before the verdict. The amateur lawyers and jurors were doing their thing, insisting that Derek Chauvin would be acquitted because that’s how it’s always gone. Each criminal case is different, a discrete and insular universe of its own. Precedents are for appellate courts; trial courts are all about verdicts. Each case stands alone.

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison assembled a 21st Century dream team for the prosecution. They also had a dream case and the right jury to hear the case. Evidence matters. Lawyering matters. Voir dire matters. Everything came together for this conviction including some significant erosion of the thin blue line.

I’m not a fan of teevee cameras in the courtroom. The prosecution handled it well, acting as if they weren’t there. Eric Nelson (who can still suck it) played to the cameras and his own vanity. Lawyers tend to revel in detail and miss the big picture. Nelson kept making those mistakes and, more importantly, misread the jury. Jurors matter.

During his doomed closing argument, Nelson missed a chance to woo the jury. At the ninety-minute mark, he should have paused and said something like this, “Your honor, I’m going to need more time to make my case, but I see that it’s lunch time. I bet everyone in the court room is hungry. Why don’t we take a break and I’ll finish after lunch.”

Would it have helped his client? Given the evidence, no, but he should done it anyway as a signal to the jury that he cared about them, instead the judge was obliged to intervene.

I don’t know about you, but I get cranky when I’m really hungry. The focus of juror crankiness was Nelson who can still suck it. My idea of hell is his closing argument on a loop for eternity. Now, that’s damnation.

It’s another example of how the defense was focused on minutiae. Details matter but getting lost in them leads to three hour closing arguments that lead to disaster for a client. In this case, Chauvin had it coming.

I usually stick up for lawyers defending the indefensible. Everyone has the right to representation. This was a tough case but Nelson (who can still suck it) made everything worse with his showboating and verbosity. He was blowing smoke to get the jury to invoke reasonable doubt, but his case died of smoke inhalation, right? Apologies for the Nelsonism, they’re annoying, agreed? Nelson can still suck it.

It would not surprise me if the police union and the convicted defendant fired Nelson. Given the mountain of evidence, an appeal is unlikely to succeed in this case but the best ground is ineffective representation by counsel. Nelson was that bad.

A friend asked if I thought Nelson was throwing the case. Definitely not. Tanking a case can get you fired and even worse disbarred, especially in such a high-profile case. Cliche warning: He couldn’t see the forest for the trees.

I’ll let you in on a little secret: not all lawyers are smart. I went to law school with some dumb people, but they were good test takers, so they made it through. That’s not unusual in a society where teachers teach to the test, not because they want to but because it’s required. Herd immunity is a good thing, but group think is not. Heed George Harrison’s advice and:

In fairness to Eric Nelson, if the prosecution had the dream case, he had the nightmare client. Derek Chauvin is as unlikeable a defendant as imaginable.

One reason Chauvin murdered George Floyd was stubborn pride. The crowd was urging him to get off Floyd’s neck and he wasn’t going to let them tell him how to do his job. He should have listened. I’m convinced that many problems could be solved if people just shut up and listened.

Chauvin’s face was blank as the verdict was read. He blinked but his visage was as emotionless as when he knelt on George Floyd’s neck for 9 minutes and 29 seconds. I try not to take pleasure in other people’s misfortune but watching him led away in handcuffs was a thing of beauty. His face remained expressionless and his eyes blank much like the character in this Kinks song:

Justice *was* achieved in the Chauvin case notwithstanding the desire of some to pull defeat from the jaws of victory. But like all criminal verdicts, it stands alone, it has no precedential value. One could even call it a legal island.

It’s a good start but few cases will have such perfect evidence and such good lawyering. It should, however, serve as a warning to rogue cops that things have changed, and that accountability is possible. Some of them, alas, will be slow learners.

In the end, people matter. The conviction was made possible by people like Darnella Frazier, Genevieve Hansen, Donald Williams, Charles McMillian, Courtney Ross, Chief Arradondo. Lt. Zimmerman, Doctors Tobin and Rich, and all the other witnesses who stood their ground and told the truth.

The truth matters.

The Verdict: Guilty On All Counts

I know everyone has already heard but we’ve gone through the process together so we might as well have a brief encounter.

I was expecting a guilty verdict but this exceeded my expectations. The look on Chauvin’s face when he was cuffed was priceless.

The criminal justice system still has a lot of work to do but this is a step forward. I expect some people on the left to try and pull defeat  from the jaws of victory but we should enjoy this moment.

Suck it, Nelson.

I promised to do this. I’ll the Master speak for me:

I’ll be back with more on the verdict tomorrow when the dust has settled.

The last word goes to Randy Newman:

Closing Arguments

The day began with jury instructions from Judge Peter Cahill, which were, of course drafted with input from both sides. I listened carefully and they sounded fairly standard; nothing wildly pro-prosecution or defense. That did not surprise me. The judge has been fair and even-handed throughout the trial. This does, however, give the prosecution an edge because they have such a strong case.

PROSECUTION ARGUMENT: Calm but impassioned best describes lead prosecutor Steve Schleicher’s style. It’s what you’d expect from a Minnesota lawyer. Those people aren’t known for raising their voices. It’s a perfect demeanor for a trial lawyer.

Schleicher began by discussing who George Floyd was and why the police response to his alleged crime was disproportionate. A reminder that the call for service was initiated because Floyd passed a counterfeit bill. It remains unclear if he knew it was a fake or not. Whatever the case, suspects are rarely cuffed and arrested for passing funny money. They’re typically issued a summons. That’s right, it’s a ticket, the monetary equivalent of a traffic stop. Repeat after me: Nobody should die during a traffic stop.

Schleicher emphasized that Floyd complied with the police until they tried to shove this large man into the cramped backseat of a squad car. Even then Floyd’s “resistance” was mostly verbal telling the cops that he was claustrophobic and not a bad guy. I understand this because I’m mildly claustrophobic myself. They did not listen and the result was George’s Floyd’s death.

Schleicher urged the jury to use their common sense and ignore the nonsense thrown at them by the defense. Nonsense is, of course, Eric Nelson’s specialty.

Schleicher pre-rebutted some of Nelson’s sillier arguments: crowd noise, carbon monoxide and the like.

For any conservative leaning jurors, Schleicher stressed that this was “not a prosecution of the police, it’s a prosecution of the defendant.” Something that was supported by the testimony of seven law enforcement professionals AGAINST Chauvin.

This was one of the strongest passages of the prosecution’s argument:

“This wasn’t policing; this was murder,” Schleicher told jurors. He cited the motto of the Minneapolis Police Department, which fired Chauvin and three other officers involved the day after Floyd’s arrest: “To protect with courage and to serve with compassion.”

“George Floyd was not a threat to anyone,” Schleicher said, often speaking with audible anger and disgust. “Facing George Floyd that day that did not require one ounce of courage, and none was shown on that day, no courage was required. All that was required was a little compassion and none was shown on that day.”

Compassion seems to be in short supply when it comes to Derek Chauvin.

I’m in a pedagogical mood so I’ll rate Schleicher’s argument. It was cogent, coherent, and well organized. I give him an A- mostly because I’m a tough grader.

DEFENSE ARGUMENT: Nelson’s argument started off fairly well, but unraveled under the weight of his words. He even conceded that he was going to be long-winded. He did not disappoint.

I originally planned to count Nelson’s use of the word right. I gave up at twenty. Oy just oy.

Nelson’s argument was disjointed and disorganized. It gave me a reasonable doubt that he’s a competent counsel. He also has some issues with the language. I’ve never heard the word fanciful pronounced fancy-full. I laughed, then thought of this venerable song:

Nelson stressed the “reasonable police officer” argument. As far as I’m concerned there’s nothing reasonable about putting one’s knee on another guy’s neck for 9 minutes and 29 seconds.

I thought Nelson’s use of video backfired. It made it clear that Floyd was begging for his life as Chauvin pinned him in a prone position. Floyd was even polite calling Chauvin, Mr. Officer when he was really Officer Asshole.

Nelson must have hoped that the guttural and agonized sounds made by Floyd would evoke stereotypes of scary Black street criminals but instead they were pitiable. Chauvin reacted with no pity. I don’t think he’s capable of it; another reason for keeping him off the witness stand.

The cause of death portion of Nelson’s argument was equally weak. Instead of keeping it short and punchy, he went on and on and on, so I’ll keep it short and snappy. It was unconvincing and so windy that the judge took a lunch break before Nelson finished.

I tried not to be too hard on Nelson just because I’ve come to dislike him over the course of the trial. It’s a very tough case for a defense lawyer. He has an unappealing client who would have no chance of acquittal if he weren’t a cop. I’m doubtful that an acquittal is possible at this point, especially since the jury is likely to be pissed off at Nelson’s windbaggery,

Nelson’s strategy seems to have been to bore or starve the jury into submission. I don’t think it will work. I give his closing argument a D- and that’s being charitable.

PROSECUTION REBUTTAL: Two of MSNBC’s Black reporters insisted on calling Jerry Blackwell the Johnnie Cochran of the Midwest. It’s meant as a compliment, but their styles are entirely different.  Besides, Blackwell is alive, and Johnnie is not. So it goes.

Blackwell did a decent job but I, along with everyone else, had trial fatigue as he spoke. I just wanted it to end.

Finally. today was a disaster for the defense. Nobody wants to hear anyone speak for 3 hours. Nelson is lucky that Chauvin didn’t kick his ass on the break. Eric Nelson is now the Fidel Castro of the legal profession. What a maroon.

The Defense Rests

Who are these masked men? Eric Nelson and Derek Chauvin.

I originally didn’t plan to write about the defense mounted on behalf of Derek Chauvin by his pesky and annoying lawyer Eric Nelson. But I was asked several times to do so, and I’ve been known to take requests. I will not, however, play either Louie Louie or Whipping Post, which are my stock mock concert song requests. I once got Weather Report’s Joe Zawinul to play a few bars of the former and was mocked by Richard Thompson for requesting the latter.

I only watched bits and bobs of the defense presentation because Nelson annoys me so much. Besides, I have other things to do such as writing about my parents and the corrupt Gilroy cop. End of shameless plug for one of my better recent posts.

Nelson’s defense predictably consisted of throwing shit against the wall and seeing how much sticks. But the defense doesn’t have the burden of proof, in a case like this its job is to poke holes in the prosecution’s case. Nelson tried mightily but as far as I can tell failed. His experts simply weren’t as good as those of the prosecution. His use of force guy essentially paraphrased Tricky Dick:

Just substitute police for president and do for does and Bob’s your uncle.

Nelson’s medical expert Dr. David Fowler was no better. He’s the reflexively pro-police former chief medical examiner of Maryland. He’s currently being sued by the family of a 19-year-old black man killed by police. Fowler ruled Anton Black’s death to be accidental and caused by his heart problems and bipolar disorder. The facts of that case are strikingly similar to the Floyd case.

Dr. Fowler pulled a joker out of the deck and cited carbon monoxide poisoning as a factor in George Floyd’s death. That led to the prosecution calling lovable expert witness Dr. Martin Tobin to rebut Fowler’s claim. That was win-win for the prosecution: Fowler is a dick with a South African accent and Tobin is a nice guy with an Irish brogue. He reminds me of two Irish members of the John Ford stock company: Barry Fitzgerald and Arthur Shields.

The least surprising thing that happened yesterday was Chauvin’s decision to exercise his 5th Amendment right not to testify. The guy has 18 citizen complaints against him. If he testified, they would have come in. There was no way Nelson would advise him to take the stand. Nelson is a jerk, not an idiot. I stand by what I wrote on Tuesday.

The trial is on hiatus until Monday. The defense tried to throw Judge Peter Cahill for a loop by resting earlier than expected. The judge was not rattled by Nelson’s antics and stuck to the plan of closing arguments on Monday. He promised the jury the weekend off before being sequestered for deliberation. One of the least commented upon aspects of a judge’s life is jury management. This judge kept his word to his jury. He’s got a swell first name as well.

A few words about the teevee coverage. I mostly watched MSNBC and CSPAN, but I dallied with Court TV. I skipped CNN because of my Wolf Blitzer phobia. Mercifully, MSNBC let its regular hosts handle the coverage, which spared me from seeing New Jersey’s answer to Wolf Blitzer, Brian Williams.

Court TV is used to covering tabloidy trials and its coverage reflected that. This trial is significant in a way that the Casey Anthony trial never was. Their analysts and anchors were shockingly bad. One predicted that Chauvin *would* testify. Say what? Talk about pundit malpractice.

As to MSNBC, its reporters were in over their head and fell back on reporting on juror quirks. How can you read their reaction when they’re wearing masks? Oy just oy.

When MSNBC’s crack legal analysts such as Chuck Rosenberg, Joyce Vance, and David Henderson were on the air things were better. I could have done without some of the political/cultural analysts such as Professor Eddie Glaude who specialized in windy and negative pronouncements about the jury. Here’s the deal: even when juries get it wrong, they’re doing the best they can. It’s not easy being a juror in a high-profile case, you’re going to get criticized whichever way you come down.

The closing arguments should be interesting. Both sides will use them to remind the jury of what happened during the trial. The prosecution has the upper hand because it has a stronger case, but Nelson might be able to pester and annoy the panel into hanging.

Predicting outcomes in a jury trial is a sucker’s game. I don’t expect an acquittal, but a hung jury is a possibility.

Stay tuned.

The last word goes to the Allman Brothers Band:

Small Town Cops

The revelation that Army Lt. Caron Nazario was pepper sprayed last December by Windsor, Virginia police got me thinking of a scary encounter my family had with a small town cop many years ago.

Windsor is as small as it gets with a population of 1,902. Its police force had only five cops at the time of the traffic stop. The number is down one because Officer Pepper Spray was fired. The only reason that happened is that Lt. Nazario sued over what may well be business as usual for that police force.

When I was a kid, my father thought nothing of hopping into the family car to spend weekends with relatives in Salinas or Los Angeles. He grew up in the mountain West where distances are great, and people drive really fast. In fact, my Aunt Mary had a radar detector in her car when she was in her 80’s. That side of the family were fast drivers. Perhaps that explains my affinity for actor/race car drivers such as Paul Newman, Steve McQueen, and James Garner.

There was a notorious speed trap on Highway 101 in those days, Gilroy. It’s now part of the San Jose/Silicon Valley urban sprawl but back in the day, it was a very small town in the middle of nowhere or so it seemed to me as a kid.

We were pulled over by the Gilroy police at least five times over the years. Every time we approached that benighted little town, my mom would warn Lou to slow down. He waved her off every time convinced he could talk his way out of anything.

We were lucky. We only received two tickets. Lou’s charm offensive usually worked. On one occasion, it did not. Lou was nearly arrested and cuffed on the spot. We were stopped by a cop who was impervious to his charm and didn’t care that he was related to Los Angeles County Sheriff, Pete Pitchess. This was Gilroy whose only claim to fame was its garlic festival and status as a speed trap.

The officer was infuriated by Lou’s name dropping and ordered him to get out of the car. He complied but didn’t stop talking. Bad idea as all it did was make the cop angrier. He started to pull out his handcuffs, which was when my mother intervened.

She apologized to the officer and offered to accompany him to the station where we would gladly pay the fine on the spot. She added, “We’re just trying to get home so our son can go to school tomorrow.”

It worked. The wannabe brutal cop turned out to be corrupt and asked for a $100 bill to let us go. He insisted that mom drive saying, “You’re a nice lady, but your husband has a big mouth. He should learn to keep it shut.”

We hit the road home. Lou tried to get mom to pull over so he could drive. It was one of the few times I recall her yelling at him: “Shut up, Lou, just shut up.”

She was magnificent.

This is not a story either of my parents ever told as far as I know, a rare thing in my father’s case. I wasn’t sworn to silence but never wanted to embarrass them over something that could have easily gone terribly wrong.

Imagine if we’d been a black family. The story wouldn’t have concluded with a bribe and our departure. I hesitate to think how it would have ended but that was one angry small town cop who was ready to kick my father’s ass or worse. A nice black lady’s intervention wouldn’t have been treated so indulgently.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: There’s never any reason for the police to draw their weapons during a traffic stop. In Lt. Nazario’s case, it was allegedly over a temporary license tag. He wisely delayed pulling over until he was in a well-lit area. It could have been much, much worse.

Driving While Black should not be dangerous. If this can happen to a soldier in uniform, it can happen to anyone. I’m glad that Lt. Nazario had the presence of mind to record the incident on his phone camera. The small town cops expected him to be grateful that they didn’t arrest him. So much for supporting our troops.

I told my story about a traffic stop that nearly went sideways, not to equate Driving While Greek with Driving While Black. It’s an example of how police training does not work. A citizen should be able to speak freely with the police, not fear for their safety when pulled over. Not every encounter with the public is life threatening but police are trained to fear those they supposedly protect and serve, especially if they’re people of color. It has to stop.

Repeat after me: Retrain The Police.

The Prosecution Rests

The prosecution in the Derek Chauvin case rested after 11 days. The streets in nearby Brooklyn Center, Minnesota are restless after another senseless shooting during a traffic stop. We’ll get to that wrinkle a bit later.

The state’s prosecutors have built an impressive case.  It was in three acts: the eyeball witnesses, the police, and the medical experts, Yesterday, they closed with a cardiologist, George Floyd’s grieving brother, and a cop turned law professor who’s an expert on police use of force.

George Floyd’s brother Philonise painted a portrait of his brother as a loving man and mama’s boy. Their mother died not long before George did, and he had her on his mind as he died with Derek Chauvin’s leg on his neck.

George Floyd’s crime was to pass a $20 bill that he may or may have not known was counterfeit. Nobody should die because of a minor non-violent offense such as that or a traffic stop. Pesky and annoying defense lawyer Eric Nelson did not cross-examine Philonise. Wise choice.

I saw the entirety of Professor Seth Stoughton’s testimony. He methodically explained why Derek Chauvin’s use of force violated the reasonable police officer standard. Once Floyd was cuffed and subdued, Chauvin’s actions were unreasonable by this standard. I’d add ruthless, vicious, and cold-hearted. How can you listen to someone beg for their life and not relent? That’s some cold shit, y’all.

Watching Eric Nelson cross-examine Stoughton was fascinating. It was like watching a golden retriever try and fail to catch a Frisbee. Stoughton is a much better lawyer and smarter man than Nelson. He visibly flinched whenever Nelson ended a question with “right” or “agreed.”

Several times Stoughton calmly upbraided the pesky and annoying counsel for the defense by saying, “That’s not my testimony.” I kept hoping that Stoughton would say wrong when Nelson said right. He didn’t but I can dream. Oh well, what the hell.

I’m not sure how much of Nelson’s defense presentation I can stand watching. He’s an annoying little bugger who has already shown his hand. He’ll claim that Chauvin’s fear of the crowd fed his paranoia, but he didn’t cause Floyd’s death anyway. His experts will blame it on drug use, heart problems, anything but the heartless cop who killed him by using unreasonable force.

I’ll be shocked if Chauvin testifies. He’s a cold fish who has been remorseless since he killed George Floyd. There’s very little upside to his testimony. The downside is that the 18 complaints filed against him for excessive force will come out in court. Never gonna testify, my friend.

As to the victim’s drug use, I had this exchange on the Tweeter Tube:

Let’s travel ten miles away from the Hennepin County courthouse to suburban Brooklyn Center, Minnesota.

Another case of police overreaction occurred last Sunday night. It cost Daunte Wright his life. He was pulled over for an allegedly expired license tag, but it was really for DWB: Driving While Black.

The police chief of that suburban burg called it an accident. I call it manslaughter. A veteran cop thought she was about to tase Wright, but she shot and killed him instead. It was a traffic stop. There was no need to use weapons. In this case, I believe that the officer is sorry, but people are punished every day of the week for things they regret doing. She should be fired and tried.

This latest incident shows that police need to be demilitarized and trained not to shoot to kill. Lethal force is not just unattractive as Eric Nelson characterized it, it’s usually unnecessary. These grotesque errors of judgment are driven by fear and bigotry. When a cop makes a mistake, it can be lethal as it was in this case.

Repeat after me: Nobody should lose their life during a traffic stop.

I watched some of the amazing coverage by Ron Allen on MSNBC last night. He did a good job in getting people to calm down and state their case. Eventually, that was impossible because of the advance of a line of police marching as if they were soldiers in a Napoleonic battle.

Stop the madness.

I got an earworm while watching Ron Allen cope with the crowd. The last word goes to Bruce Springsteen:

INSTANT UPDATE: The Brooklyn Park police chief and the officer who shot Daunte Wright have been forced to resign.

Quote Of The Day: War Of The Rebellion Edition

It’s the 156th anniversary of the glorious surrender at Appomattox Court House. My sympathies are obvious even after living for decades in the Gret Stet of Louisiana, which was not only part of the Confederacy but voted for Strom Thurmond in 1948 and George Wallace 20 years later.

Today’s quote comes from a writer who has been quoted more than once on First Draft, TPM’s Josh Marshal:

April 9th is a glorious anniversary: the day Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, Commanding General of the US Army, received the surrender of Robert E. Lee, a renegade US Army Colonel who was a leader of a violent rebellion against the United States, which killed hundreds of thousands of Americans. Grant offered generous terms to Lee and the other traitors making up his army. Six days later President Lincoln was assassinated in Washington, DC.

Lee was an able tactician but lacked the strategic genius that made Grant the towering military figure of the US Civil War. His Memoirs are one of the great works of American literature, quite apart from his fame and prominence as General and President. Certainly it is the greatest work of literature written by an American political figure. I wrote about both here.

The reality of the past is unchanging, as immutable as time proceeds only in one direction. But our perceptions of it, our understanding of its meaning and the stories we tell about it are perpetually in flux. Humans are story-telling creatures. Many of the great artifacts of human intellection are analytic, mathematic, visual. But at the deepest and most penetrating level we understand the world through stories, narratives. The production of these narratives become histories in themselves.

Nowhere is this more viscerally apparent than in the century of valorization of the traitors who led the pretended state called the Confederate States of America. This even goes down to the deep valorization of Southern military culture and the Confederacy’s top generals. This goes for Lee himself, a very skilled tactician but a highly conventional commander. This applies equally to the denigration of the commanders and common soldiers of the North whose reputations were downgraded as an offering to the wounded pride of the South.

That was a longer quote than I typically use but it sums up my own views quite neatly. There was, of course, nothing neat about the aftermath of the War of the Rebellion. Reconstruction ended with a whimper with the “compromise” over the disputed Hayes-Tilden election of 1876. General President Grant did not approve, but as we were reminded recently Congress had the final say.

Finally, some folks in Alabama who call themselves White Lies Matter swiped a Confederate Monument and turned it into a terlet. I am not making this up.

The last word goes to Cheap Trick with a song that has nothing to with today’s anniversary, but the title works and the song rocks:

 

More Hick Schtick From John Neely Kennedy

The junior Senator from the Gret Stet of Louisiana is the man I love to hate. I considered two Sue Grafton inspired titles for this post, P Is For Phony or H Is For Hypocrite, before settling on this one. It would take a crack detective such as Kinsey Milhone to locate Neely’s integrity, after all.

Neely loves to go on teevee and denounce the liberals; one of whom he used to be. That was before he lowered his political IQ and became a Fox News favorite. He did it again the other day but first some background snark about Neely’s hick schtick.

As Treasurer of the Gret Stet of Louisiana for seventeen years, Neely was a publicity hound, but his brand was as a skinflint guarding the public coffers against both Democrats and Republicans, not the rabid wingnut of today. He was every bit as hard on Bobby Jindal as on his Democratic predecessor, Kathleen Blanco. Of course, he was a Democrat until 2007.

Neely didn’t start hicking up his accent and speaking style until he changed parties. Before then, he was not ashamed of being well-educated and articulate. The dumbing down began in his second run for the US Senate in 2008 against incumbent Mary Landrieu who had also served as Gret Stet Treasurer.

Neely perfected his hick schtick in his successful run for the Senate in 2016. Having secured the prize he’d spent his entire life chasing, he became one of the loudest Trump sycophants and enablers in a Republican party full of them. I wrote a long piece for Bayou Brief in 2018 about what I called his Neelyisms: the cornpone “wisdom” he dispenses on the boob tube.

The Neelyisms stopped being funny when he started using them to defend retrograde, racist, and downright stupid policies. After the slaughter in Boulder, Colorado he said that what America needed was idiot control, not gun control. He’s not really an idiot, he just plays one on teevee.

Neely popped up on Fox News the other day and deployed his cornpone “wisdom” against Major League Baseball for relocating the All Star Game from Atlanta to Denver:

Forget Mars. We need to search for intelligent life in the Major League Baseball commissioner’s office. I have never seen anything like this. Commissioner Manfred has a fiduciary responsibility to Major League Baseball. His job is to do the very best that he can not to suck. He has failed at that. Think about what he’s done. Major League Baseball is losing popularity to football and other sports. His job is to grow it. So what is the first thing he does? He decides to get involved in national politics and alienate hundreds of millions of Americans who actually like the Georgia bill and think that it is an honest effort for election security.

The commissioner hasn’t explained why he thinks these hundreds of millions of Americans who support the Georgia effort are a bunch of racists. He hasn’t bothered to explain why he thinks the bill is racist. The only excuse I can think is he made all of these decisions after his morning beer. I have never seen anything like it. It costs $150 to attend a major league baseball game in some cities. Is this going to encourage people to go? I just don’t think so.

This has nothing to do with Jackie Robinson. It has nothing to do with race.

It has everything to do with race, Senator. In fact, Jackie Robinson was born in Georgia, but his family fled Jim Crow and moved to California in search of a better life.

Republicans are afraid that they’re losing their grip on power in Georgia, so that state’s lege passed an atrocious bill that overwhelmingly effects black voters who are overwhelmingly Democratic. It might as well be called the Beat Raphael Warnock Bill.  One would think that logic would reach a man who was an adjunct professor at LSU law school for 14 years, but he’s only interested in the next election. His election.

Neely is also fond of mocking diversity and claiming that racism is not systematic. Our old pal Deep Blog saw the faux idiot on Faux News the other day and got a bellyful of his pseudo ignorant spiel. He sent me a screen shot of Vanderbilt University’s yearbook from 1973. John Neely Kennedy is second from the right on the top row:

The observant among you have surely noticed that, except for two Asian dudes, everyone on this page is of one race. It explains a lot about John Neely Kennedy. He not only mocks diversity, he’s uncomfortable with it. Imagine that.

Presumably, Vanderbilt is considerably more diverse in 2021 than it was in Neely’s day, which was a mere 9 years after that pricey private school was fully desegregated. In the Seventies, Black Commodores were still rare on the University’s Nashville campus unless some students owned records by the band then fronted by Lionel Richie.

John Neely Kennedy is a cornpone con man who thinks diversity is for suckers. To paraphrase Teddy Roosevelt, Neely talks loudly and carries a hick schtick. I look forward to voting against him in 2022.

Since Neely is so fond of guns, the last word goes to The Commodores with the title track of their debut album:

Quote Of The Day: Boehner On Birtherism

Barack Obama and John Boehner on St. Patrick’s Day, 2014.

The man I used to call Speaker Boner has published a memoir of his days in elected office. The Politico Magazine excerpt has a cool title: Panic Rooms, Birth Certificates, and the Birth of GOP Paranoia.

We can argue about the timing of the paranoia but not about its existence. It’s the sort of arguments we *used* to have with conservatives when we agreed on facts but not on policy.

Anyhoo, Heeeeeeere’s Johnny on what became the foundational big lie of Trumpism:

“In January 2011, as the new Republican House majority was settling in and I was getting adjusted to the Speakership, I was asked about the birth certificate business by Brian Williams of NBC News. My answer was simple: ‘The state of Hawaii has said that President Obama was born there. That’s good enough for me.’ It was a simple statement of fact. But you would have thought I’d called Ronald Reagan a communist. I got all kinds of shit for it—emails, letters, phone calls. It went on for a couple weeks. I knew we would hear from some of the crazies, but I was surprised at just how many there really were.

It’s quite a contrast with current House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy who is, to be blunt, a ninny and silly-billy. Who among us has forgotten the post I wrote about him in 2015 called Untrustable In Hungria. Most of you, I know, but it’s one of my all-time favorites so I trot it out whenever possible.

Even though I gave him an anatomical nickname, I was always fond of John Boehner. He’s a human being as opposed to the sock puppet McCarthy or the butt-plug Scalise.

Another image I keep trotting out. I got a million of them…

Another Boehner quote about the 2010 Tea Party wave election is quite revealing:

“You could be a total moron and get elected just by having an R next to your name—and that year, by the way, we did pick up a fair number in that category.”

Boehner’s Speakership coincided with the GOP’s headlong rush into full-tilt insanity. It turned his dream job into a nightmare. The same thing happened to our political system. We’re still trying to recover.

I get a kick out of the fact that Boehner is now a weed lobbyist. Party on, John.

The last word goes to the Chairman of the Board with a double dose of Cole Porter:

Calling The Cops On The Cops

I’ve been watching bits and pieces of the trial of Derek Chauvin for murdering George Floyd. I have some random thoughts about what I’ve seen thus far.

The way the defendant’s name is pronounced is jarring to this Louisianan’s ear. In the Gret Stet, it’s pronounced SHOW-VAN. We have some good friends who are Chauvins, no relation.

In Minnesota the name seems to be pronounced SHAW-VIN.

Oh well, what the hell.

The prosecution’s main witness is THE VIDEO. But it needed to be authenticated by Darnella Frazier who filmed the whole incident with her camera phone. She was also a helluva witness. The defense opened the door with a question about her emotional reaction to the murder of George Floyd. The prosecution threw her a hanging curveball and she knocked it out of the park.

Defense lawyer Eric Nelson is a bad cross-examiner whose attempts to provoke witnesses have been largely ineffective. He’s trying to prove that the crowd assembled outside Cup Foods was an angry mob in a bad neighborhood. It hasn’t worked with me but I’m not on the jury. It’s the only audience that matters.

Nelson wisely limited his cross-examination of the underage witnesses. Bullying a 9-year-old girl is a bad look.

He had no compunction about going after Donald Williams who was one of the most voluble eyeball witnesses at the crime scene. He’s a mixed martial arts fighter so he immediately understood the peril George Floyd was in.

Williams heckled the cops with the refrain, “You a bum.” I believe in calling a bum a bum so I’m in complete agreement.

Nelson trotted out the angry black man thing with Williams. It was undermined by the simple fact that he was the one who called the police on the police. I’ve paraphrased it for the post title: cops flows better.

That brings me to firefighter Genevieve Hansen. The defense quite rightly views her as an existential threat. She’s a certified EMT who has the expertise to comment upon Chauvin’s actions.  The police refused to allow her to help George Floyd.

Hansen is also a white chick and, more importantly in Minnesota, Norwegian or Swedish. Probably the former because of the sen.

If you’ve ever seen the original Fargo, you know that her ethnicity is a big deal in heavily Scandinavian Minnesota. It’s like a Cajun witness testifying against a rogue racist cop in Lafayette, Louisiana.

Nelson’s cross-examination of  Hansen made me cross. He patronized her because of her youth and gender. Hansen got irritated and fought back. The judge was not amused. I was.

The prosecution case is off to a roaring start. The hard part comes next: proving intent. In order to convict Chauvin of any degree of murder, intent is the key. His actions meet the depraved indifference standard but intent is the key to locking this bigoted bastard up.

The MSM focus on social media reactions to the trial is amusing but misplaced. The only reaction that matters is that of the jury. Just ask Perry Mason and Hamilton Burger, they know. Mercifully, Eric Nelson is no Perry Mason.

The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia

Tuesday night a man whose name I will not use murdered 8 people; 6 of them were Asian Americans. Seven of the dead were women. Earlier that evening Donald Trump, while on live television, used a slur to refer to COVID-19. What did the media fixate on? That he had told everyone to get vaccinated. Somehow the year long rise in violence against Asian and Pacific Islander Americans, that began because the same racist former president consistently used racist language to describe a virus, wasn’t worthy of conversation.

Wednesday morning the Cherokee County, GA’s Captain Jay Baker told us that these murders did not constitute a racially-motivated hate crime. You see, the murderer was upset about sin and his “sex addiction”. And also? He’d had a bad day. And then we we found out that this same sheriff trafficked in anti-Asian memes. At that point I just couldn’t anymore with the hot takes that it wasn’t a hate crime, but someone mad at sex workers, with the undercurrent that while this was—you know—bad, it was pretty understandable. UGH UGH UGH.

And then Wednesday evening we learned more about 4 of the victims. It took us so long to find out about them because it required people who spoke Korean. These 4 women were in their 50s, 60s, and 70s. The narrative completely changed. The murderer wasn’t a young Christian struggling with sin and lashing out at the women he felt had led him astray. He was just a racist loser who lashed out at people he hated. He had a social media presence that was anti-Asian. He literally said on Tuesday night, as he was killing people, that he wanted to kill Asian Americans.

I thought I knew what I wanted to write about this tragedy:  a loser murders 7 young women because he has sexual hang-ups and had been indoctrinated into a pseudo-religious ideology that holds that sexually active women need to be strictly controlled. But the first 4 women we learn about are…like me. They are middle-aged to elderly. They most likely weren’t sex workers. This wasn’t about sin or sex addiction. This was about straight up racism and misogyny.

It’s the same behavior that happens on Native American reservations, where angry white men go to rape Native American women because they know they won’t be held accountable for their terrible deeds. This murderer was taken into custody alive and unharmed. The sheriff, himself a despicable racist, as we found out today, offered up excuses for the person he identified with. As it turns out, so did a lot of America.

Also on Wednesday the House of Representatives reauthorized the Violence Against Women Act, and even after these terrible murders 172 House Republicans voted against it. Now we wait to see if it can pass the Senate. It is beyond infuriating that the passage of this bill in doubt, but abusers protect their fellow abusers, and they see no reason to break that cycle.

The House Vax Refuseniks

It’s time for some more jab jabber but you knew that already because of the featured image of Richard Widmark with a needle. A friend asked me if I’d consider using the poster for The Panic In Needle Park but since that flick is about junkies, I told him to stick it. I suspect he’ll continue needling me. If you dish it out, you gotta be able to take it.

I’ve felt like a compendium of vaccine side effects since we last did some jab talking. Nothing major: just a bit of wooziness, soreness, minor swelling, and ennui, which is a fancy way of saying that I’ve slept a lot. I’m following my late mother’s admonition to sleep when under the weather. She was a smart woman.

The mere fact that I’m having side effects means the vaccine is working. It beats the hell out of one of the leading side effects of the virus: DEATH.

The vax news out of Congress is vexing. According to a piece in Axios:

Uncertainty about why only 75% of the House is confirmed as vaccinated against the coronavirus is fueling a debate about when the chamber can return to its normal rules of operation.

Between the lines: The other 25% of members have either refused to get the vaccine, have not reported getting it at home or are avoiding it because of medical conditions. Until the Office of Attending Physician is clear about this, it can’t make recommendations “regarding the modification or relaxation of existing social distancing guidelines.”

  • Congress has its own supply of the coronavirus vaccine. While it’s not certain which party is most to blame for any vaccine hesitancy, the phenomenon is higher among white Republicans than any other demographic group, as Axios has reported.

  • “I won’t be taking it. The survival rate is too high for me to want it,” 25-year-old Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.) told Axios in December.

I yield the floor to my colleague from Gotham City to fire a bullet at those bullet points:

Is there really any doubt about which party is to blame? The GOP is the party of Mask Warriors as well as Dipshit Insurrectionists. And side effects of Trumpism include stupidity, malakatude, and COVID denialism.

It’s all about freedom, man. House GOPers also object to security measures adopted since the Twelfth Night White Riot. They impinge on their freedom, man. I suspect they concur with this nonsense from the stupidest solon:

Even though those thousands of people that were marching to the Capitol were trying to pressure people like me to vote the way they wanted me to vote, I knew those were people that love this country, that truly respect law enforcement, would never do anything to break the law, and so I wasn’t concerned,” Johnson said in a Thursday interview with conservative radio host Joe “Pags” Pagliarulo.

“Now, had the tables been turned — Joe, this could get me in trouble — had the tables been turned, and President Trump won the election and those were tens of thousands of Black Lives Matter and Antifa protesters, I might have been a little concerned,” he added.

The Boy Wonder is feeling feisty today:

Racism is one of the nastier side effects of white privilege. Ain’t nobody whiter than Ron Johnson.

Anyway, y’all get jabbed ASAP. If you’re still not eligible, sign up pronto. It’s important: side effects be damned.

The last word goes to Pat Benatar:

CPAC 2021: Vengeance Thy Name Is Pennywise

Image by Michael F.

My Saturday piece about CPAC idolatry was widely circulated on social media and generated considerable buzz. I knocked that one out in a hurry and was surprised but grateful for the eyeballs. It must have been the golden statue picture.

Before taking a look at Pennywise’s first post White House speech, a few things I missed on Saturday.

One would hope that evangelicals would be appalled by the statue. I’ll let PJ Grisar of the Jewish publication Forward explain why:

It doesn’t take a doctorate of divinity to see the parallel to this ludicrous idol worship and the episode of the golden calf, in which a faction of the Israelites, left alone by Moses for roughly the period Trump’s been out of office, melted down their rings into a “molten calf” and made offerings to it.

This made God (a Jealous God) angry, and Moses, too. I mean, our guy shattered the Ten Commandments when he saw what was going down. It’s pretty clear to see why.

On those tablets, notarized by divine fire, one finds the line item, “Thou shalt not make unto thee a graven image, nor any manner of likeness, of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.”

Oy just oy.

Unfortunately, the bible thumpers think Trump (Netanyahu too) will bring on the rapture and they’ll be lifted to heaven because they’re so piously awesome or some such shit. Shorter Adrastos: They’ll stand by their man.

Repeat after me: Oy just oy.

I also missed a joke in my haste to post graven images and Nazi Symbols:

The root of the word Odal is Odin the head Norse God known to Wagner fans as Wotan. We all know who one of Wagner’s biggest fans was.

Like Trump, Wagner’s Wotan is a notorious windbag. That’s why the Ring Cycle lasts 17 hours. Most of the Impeached Insult Comedian’s speeches only feel as if they’re that long. Does this make Donny Junior Siegfried or Ivanka Brunhilde? Beats the hell outta me, I don’t even like opera, and know precious little about the characters. I do, however, know that Wotan is a windbag. It’s extra-funny vhen you use a Hogan’s Heroes style German accent and say it like zis: Votan is a vindbag.

Speaking of windbaggery, here’s how TPM headlined their live coverage of Trump’s CPAC screed:

Sleepy Don: Trump Targets GOPers, Repeats Bogus Election Claims In Low-Energy Speech

I didn’t watch the speech; I didn’t feel like having my head explode. But reports had me thinking in musical terms as in what kind of album it would be. It’s unclear if it qualifies as Pennywise’s greatest hits, best of, box set, or anthology, but he covered all the usual bases, told the usual lies, and threw raw meat at the crowd. The CPAC gourmands are always hungry for raw meat, which is ironic given Pennywise’s preference for well-done steaks as opposed to steak tartare. Let them eat freedom fries. man.

The most revealing part of the speech was when the Kaiser of Chaos vowed vengeance against those Republicans who have crossed him:

The Democrats don’t have grandstanders like Mitt Romney, little Ben Sasse, Richard Burr, Bill Cassidy, Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, Pat Toomey, and in the house, Tom Rice, South Carolina, Adam Kinzinger, Dan Newhouse, Anthony Gonzalez. That’s another beauty. Fred Upton, Jaime Herrera Beutler, Peter Meyer, John Katko, David Valadao. And of course the warmonger, a person that loves seeing our troops fighting, Liz Cheney. How about that?

The good news is in her state, she’s been censured, and in her state, her poll numbers have dropped faster than any human being I’ve ever seen. So hopefully they’ll get rid of her with the next election. Get rid of them all.

Thus spake Pennywise, the wrathful god of Trumpism. It’s unclear how much time he’ll have to personally meddle in Republican politics since he’s going to spend much of the next four years as a professional defendant in both criminal and civil cases.

Directly after attacking the courageous GOPers who took a stand against sedition, Trump delivered a bizarre soliloquy about Democrats:

Democrats are vicious. Remember this, it’s true. Democrats are vicious.

He said evil, well, there is evil there, but they’re vicious, they’re smart, and they do one thing. You got to hand it to them. They always stick together. You don’t have Mitt Romney’s in the group. They always stick together.

Talk about alternative facts. I guess he’s never read any “Democrats in disarray” disarray stories. He should at least be aware of them since he used to be a Democrat himself. Oy just oy.

Trump is the great unifier of the Democratic party. We all agree that this racist and sexist criminal should never darken the White House door again. If that makes us vicious so be it.

Let’s revel in our viciousness by repeating my vicious mantra: Donald Trump is a pussy. He should grab himself.

The last word goes to Lou Reed who may have been Vicious, but never hit Pennywise with a flower:

 

CPAC 2021: Of Golden Statues & Odal Runes

Is there anything more ironic than a golden statute of the Impeached Insult Comedian in front of a sign that says, Look Ahead America?

Repeat after me: Donald Trump is the past, not the future.

He’s a super loser, not a super-hero.

CPAC organizers have an even more pernicious form of nostalgia involving Nazi iconography as you can see from this tweet:

This is nothing new. The American far right has long been fascinated with Nazi symbols. Along with genocide, oppression, warmongering, and lying the Nazis were good at iconography. They tended to steal from past cultures: the Odal Rune is rooted in Nordic-Aryan mythology and was stolen and modified by the SS in 1934. The root of the word Odal is Odin the head Norse God known to Wagner fans as Wotan. We all know who one of Wagner’s biggest fans was.

Let that sink in: The SS used the modified Odal Rune on their uniforms. The SS was declared a criminal organization by the first Nuremberg Tribunal. Now an organ of the “conservative movement” is using one of its symbols.

Another overview of the CPAC stage confirms this notion:

Photo via Guardians of Democracy.

As our longtime readers know, I am leery of seeing Nazis, neo and otherwise, everywhere but this is no coincidence.

CPAC has gone from Reagan worship to Trump idolatry. Their use of Nazi symbolism proves that CPAC and its ilk are radicals, not conservatives. There’s nothing conservative about the SS’s Odal Rune variation.

I’ve seen some people on the Twitter left say that Trump is just like Ronald Reagan. It’s a canard and I say that as someone who disagreed with Reagan and voted against him twice.

Reagan may have fought World War II in Hollywood, but he was a member of Brokaw’s greatest generation. You know, the ones who actually fought and defeated the Nazis. It’s safe to say that he would not approve of the use of Nazi iconography by a group purporting to support him.

Back to the golden statue. It reflects what Ben Sasse, who voted to convict in the late impeachment trial, decried as “the weird worship of one dude.” There’s a difference between idolatry and support. A golden statue of the Kaiser of Chaos is idolatry pure and simple.

I rarely post anything other than Odds & Sods on Saturdays. I put a lot of work into those posts and this week’s entry is a particular favorite of mine. I decided that CPAC’s Nazi stage couldn’t wait until Monday. It’s that disturbing.

I wish I could say that the Odal Rune will be CPAC’s ruination but that’s unlikely. Neo-Nazism has infiltrated mainstream politics. Gret Stet Fuhrer wannabe David Dukkke is celebrating this turn of events. Stay tuned.

The Curious Case Of The Mean Tweets War

I’ve been on Twitter since its infancy, March 2008. I came to it via an OG NOLA blogger acquaintance who we nicknamed Trotsky because he had Leon Trotsky hair and fancied himself something of an internet revolutionary. I lost touch with Trotsky but as far as I know, he’s never been attacked by a Stalinist with an ice pick.

For many years, I engaged in some pitched online battles with people on political Twitter; some from the far left, others from the far right. Not long after the 2016 election catastrophe, I realized that fighting with strangers on the Tweeter Tube was a waste of time and energy. I stopped arguing with them because it was futile.

Twitter became meaner and uglier after its Trumpification and the battles became nastier. Many continued to fight with trolls and other pains in the ass; Neera Tanden is among those Twitter warriors.

I’ve been following Tanden for many years. Her feed is often amusing and informative. It’s also extremely combative. Neera Tanden is one tough broad and I say that as a compliment. She doesn’t take shit from anyone. I often wondered if she’d given up her ambition to serve in appointed or elective office since she tweeted with a blow torch.

We’ve heard much from the right and center-right about her mean tweets. We’ve heard less from the left: many of Tanden’s fiercest Twitter battles were with some of Bernie Sanders’ less salubrious supporters. Neera and Bernie have buried the hatchet and thus far there seems to be no *meaningful* real world opposition from the left to her nomination as budget director. The Twitter left is a different story but who the hell cares about them?

Unlike the girly men of the right, Bernie Sanders can take a punch and respects the toughness of Tanden. His opinion matters because he’s the chairman of the budget committee. He’s voting to confirm.

The mean tweets war accelerated when West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin announced his opposition based on Tanden’s mean tweets. In the past, Manchin has voted for the likes of Rick Grennel whose tweets made Tanden’s look mild-mannered in contrast. This is quite simply the dumbest reason ever for opposing a nomination. Say it ain’t so, Joe. Sorry, Cassandra, your guy got this one wrong.

There’s a clear double standard at work here. The Biden nominees who are having the most trouble are women and people of color. Imagine that. Additionally, the notion that Republicans object to mean tweets is preposterous. Before his exile, the Impeached Insult Comedian was the meanest tweeter of all as well as the biggest liar. Neera Tanden has a sharp tongue but speaks the truth.

It’s time for a brief musical interlude:

Tough-talking women are viewed with suspicion in our society. I not only embrace the tough broad ethos, I celebrate it. In this case, Neera Tanden is eminently qualified to be OMB honcho. Lapsed Republican/former Bush aide David Frum neatly summed it up:

Slowly but surely Neera Tanden’s tweets are turning into the 2021 edition of Hillary Clinton’s emails. It’s even more ridiculous than that ridiculous episode as the issue is her opinions, not any question of law or propriety however specious. Neera Tanden gets it: she was one of Hillary’s top aides in 2016.

This episode shows how low our body politic has sunk. Tweets, mean or nice, should have no bearing on anyone’s ability to serve in government. Twitter is supposed to be a lark, not all important. Note the motto on my own Twitter profile:

I guess I should amend my motto to: Nothing that happens on Twitter *should* matter.

The last word goes to Crowded House in the fog:

As of now it’s unclear where Neera Tanden’s “blind date with destiny” will take her. I hope she’s confirmed but the White House has made it clear that there’s a place in the administration for her regardless of how The Curious Case Of The Mean Tweets War concludes.